Bike travel, commuting and more


Ecuador II: Otavalo to Cayambe

Climb out of Otavalo

Climb out of Otavalo

Getting close to the Equator

Today the day should be a doable one. First we need to climb about 300 mts to get out of Otavalo, in 16 km, and then downhill again for another 15 km down to Cayambe, a town that claims to be on Latitude 0’00”.

Hostal Maria in Otavalo
Leaving our hotel in Otavalo in a grey day

The start was not an easy one. It’s never nice to start climbing right after breakfast, and on top of that it was raining. It was a light rain, but the one that after 10 minutes on the road soaks everything. We had a couple of nasty dogs barking as we were passing by, which is a trademark of South America, and particularly bad in Ecuador.

Climbing out of Otavalo
Rain makes everything harder

After the first long climb there was a flattish area where we stopped to take a break from the rain. Since it was not cold I had used a plastic poncho, and Susanne quickly swapped it with me as she was roasting inside her rain jacket. The kids played for a while until the rain was much milder, and then we continued

Rain break coming out of Otavalo
Rain break next to the road

Luckily the rain finally stopped, but the climb got tougher rather than easier. The Ecuatorians have invested a lot on the roads, so they can cut through the mountains, which makes for shorter trips for cars, but much steeper climbs for the cyclists.

Climbing out of Otavalo with no rain
Climb goes on, now dry
Last views of Volcan Imbabura. Simon walks alongside, as it’s faster

At the top of the climb, in the border between Imbabura and Pichincha provinces, there are dozens of restaurants all offering the same, hot chocolate with bizcochos and cheese. We stopped in one about 800 mts before the summit, and relaxed looking at the landscape from inside the big windows.

Stopping for chocolate
Chocolate break, yes!
Chocolate tasting at Cajas
The experts seem to approve

The kids loved the chocolate, not so much the bizcochos but the adults quickly ate them. Thomas loved the soft cheese. Outside there was a playground, something not easy to find in villages, so the kids took advantage from it. Playgrounds are saviors for cycletouring parents as the kids can burn a bit of energy while the parents rest.

Playground in Cajas
Full of chocolate energy!

Unfortunately we stayed a bit too long and the dark clouds were coming back, so we climbed the remaining meters and without stopping we started the downhill towards Cayambe.

Downhill to Cayambe
Beginning of the downhill, no time for more bizcochos

The valley below looked like full of mirrors, until we realised there were actually plastic greenhouses. We later learned that this valley is famous for its flowers, mostly roses, that are sent to Quito and around the world.

Entering Cayambe by bike
Entering Cayambe

The downhill was a nice one, long and progressive without much need for braking, and we were quickly in Cayambe. The town is not particularly nice, so we didn’t need accommodation near the city center. Towards the outside on the south side we first tried one but it was too expensive, so we swapped to another that was slightly cheaper and much nicer, Hostal El Sol, which was very clean.

Simon felt sleep in the last kilometers
Our bikes parked in the back patio of the hotel, our room directly above

For dinner, we went to a roasting chicken place since the kids were amazed at the rotating grill. We met there a couple that told us about the flowers, local limonades, and a few more things, before going back to the hotel for our usual dose of TV cartoons, reading, and bed. Tomorrow hopefully we’ll cross the equator, barely 6km south of Cayambe

Chicken tasting in Cayambe
Half a chicken, fries and rice, perfect cyclist food. Fiora Vanti is a popular lemonade in Ecuador
Luggage explosion in hotel
Usual luggage explosion when we arrived in a hotel


  1. Katherine

    Fiovaravanti!! Q recuerdos!! Les falta probar Inca Kola!! Y claro , con pollito asado y papitas fritas..un clasico! Falta poco y llegan a Quito. Toda una odisea la montaña , pero los Andes valen la pena!!! Que lo disfruten

  2. Sole

    Jeje, empieza a parecer una guía gastronómica

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